Constitutional Provisions

Article 15(1) of the 1995 Constitution of Georgia (as amended) provides that: "Everyone has the inviolable right to life and this right shall be protected by law." According to Article 17:

1. Honour and dignity of an individual is inviolable.

2. Torture, inhuman, cruel treatment and punishment or treatment and punishment infringing upon honour and dignity shall be impermissible.

Article 25 governs the right to freedom of assembly:

1. Everyone, except members of the armed forces and Ministry of Internal Affairs, has the right to public assembly without arms either indoors or outdoors without prior permission. 

2. The necessity of prior notification of the authorities may be established by law in the case where a public assembly or manifestation is held on a public thoroughfare.

3. Only the authorities shall have the right to break up a public assembly or manifestation in case it assumes an illegal character.

The Constitution does not regulate the use of force by the police or other law enforcement agency.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 State Party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints Yes
CAT Optional Protocol 1 State Party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court State Party

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
1950 European Convention on Human Rights State Party

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

Law enforcement in Georgia is conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The use of force is regulated by the Police Law. According to Article 31(1) of this law, to perform police functions,

a police officer may use fit and proportionate coercive measures only in the case of necessity and to the extent that shall ensure achievement of legitimate objectives.

According to Article 33:

c) tear gas, pepper spray, sonic weapons, and non-lethal weapons (including non-lethal shells) are used to repel an attack on a person, a police officer and/or protected facility; to prevent mass and group violations of legal order; when detaining a person who has committed a crime or an action posing threat to the public at large, or when forcing such person to leave an occupied territory, vehicle or building and construction that the person is using as a shelter

d) flash-bang device of psychological effect to temporarily disorient senses is used to repel an attack on a state and/or public facility, on a person and/or a police officer; to detain a person who is engaged in an armed resistance; to expel a criminal or a dangerous person posing a threat to the public from buildings and construction sites, plots of land, and vehicles that they have broken into, and to release a person who has been unlawfully deprived of liberty...

g) water-cannons, armoured car and other special transportation means are used to suppress mass violations of legal order, to repel a group attack on the state and/or public facilities, to stop a vehicle by force if the driver does not obey a police officer's demand to stop; to detain an armed criminal...

k) an electroshock device is used to repel an attack on a person, a police officer and/or a protected facility....

Article 34 of the Police Law governs the right to use firearms. Under paragraph 5, a police officer may use a firearm as a last resort:

a) to defend a person and him/herself from a threat to their lives and/or health

b) to release a person who has been unlawfully deprived of liberty

c) based on prior information, to prevent the escape of a person who has been detained for having committed a violent act or extremely grievous crime

d) to prevent a violent crime if a person resists a police officer

e) to repel an attack on a protected facility, state body and/or civic organisation....

This is more permissive than international law allows.

Under paragraph 6: "The active use of a firearm against a person shall be preceded by the following verbal warning: ‘Police! Freeze or I will shoot!’ followed by a warning shot. In the case of necessity, a warning shot might not be fired."

Police Oversight

No external independent mechanism exists speifically for investigating complaints against the police although the Public Defender (Ombudsman) can hear allegations of excessive police use of force. In its 2014 Concluding Observations on Georgia, the Human Rights Committee called on Georgia to

pursue its plans to establish an independent and impartial body to investigate allegations of abuse by police and other law enforcement officers, including torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.

The Prosecutor General is competent to deal with complaints against the police involving criminality and it is possible for citizens to make a complaint to that office. The General Inspection Department of the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for investigating offences committed by the police and carrying out disciplinary action.

Caselaw

Global

Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In its 2014 Concluding Observations on Georgia, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern 

that some investigations are still pending, namely those: (a) into the excessive use of force by law enforcement and/or prison officers during the March 2006 disturbance at Tbilisi Prison No. 5; (b) into the ill-treatment of prisoners at Gldani Prison in Tbilisi, Ksani Prison No. 15, Kutaisi Prison No. 2, Rustavi Prison No. 6 and Zugdidi Prison No. 4; and (c) into the violent dispersal of peaceful demonstrations on 7 November 2007, 15 June 2009 and 3 January 2011 and the incidents in Mereti (26 June 2012) and Karaleti (12 July 2012), during which journalists were physically and verbally assaulted.

Regional

Dvalishvili v. Georgia (2012)

This case concerned an alleged serious assault on the applicant by three police officers who demanded that he confess to a crime. 

The European Court of Human Rights observed that the parties advanced different explanations as to the origin of the applicant’s injuries. On the one hand, the applicant gave a consistent account corroborated by medical evidence..., according to which he had been beaten at the Tskaltubo police department. On the other hand, the authorities’ version, supported by the statements of the police officers and the victim, was that the injuries at issue could had been caused when the applicant had fallen on concrete slabs whilst fleeing the crime scene, or when the police officers had restrained him.

The Court observed that while "exclusively focusing on the applicant’s injuries to his face",

the Government had simply overlooked the fact that the applicant had also suffered long-lasting damage to his health, such as an internal head injury and concussion, and that several other bruises had been found on different parts of his body.... The relevant national authorities in their domestic decisions failed to challenge the medical conclusion of 21 March 2006..., whilst the Government, in their pleadings before the Court, simply dismissed the forensic conclusion of 25 October 2006; they stated that this conclusion had not proved the fact of the applicant’s ill-treatment. Hence, by overlooking the relevant medical information, the Government did not take the trouble of contesting the expert’s conclusion that the applicant’s various injuries could not be explained by a single fall....

Downloads

1995 Constitution of Georgia (as amended)

Police Law of Georgia

Criminal Code of Georgia

Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations on Georgia (2014)

Dvalishvili v. Georgia (2012)